The integration of microfluidics and microphotonics brings the ability to tune and reconfigure ultra-compact optical devices. This flexibility is essentially provided by three characteristics of fluids that are scalable at the micron-scale: fluid mobility, large ranges of index modulation, and abrupt interfaces that can be easily reshaped. Several examples of optofluidic devices are presented here to illustrate the achievement of flexible devices on (semi) planar and compact platforms. First, we report an integrated geometry for a compact and tunable interferometer that exploits a sharp and mobile air/water interface. We then describe a class of optically controlled devices that rely on the actuation of optically trapped micron-sized objects within a fluid environment. The last architecture results from the infiltration of photonic crystal devices with fluids. This produces tunable and reconfigurable photonic devices, like optical switches. Higher degrees of functionality could be achieved with sophisticated optofluidic platforms that associate complex microfluidic delivery and mixing schemes with microphotonic devices. Moreover, optofluidics offers new opportunities for realizing highly responsive and compact sensors.
- Optical tweezers